Does binocular vision affect fine motor ability?
Occupational therapy has been treating fine motor problems since the beginning of the profession. From tying shoes to buttoning to handwriting, when children or adults have difficulty with this, occupational therapy is referred.
A small study (1) looked at the fine motor skills of children with reading difficulties and found those with fine motor problems also had binocular vision problems, specifically accommodative problems. While a small study (19 children), this suggests that vision is playing a role in fine motor coordination.
Another study (2) found that children that were poor readers showed a higher occurrence of binocular vision difficulties and suggested a need for the assessment of these skills in problem readers.
Research also indicates the importance binocular vision and motion perception to development of the motor skills(3) as young a 2 years old.
OT and binocular vision
As therapists, we are seeing children with difficulties that could have a binocular vision component. While a through binocular eye exam should be completed to rule out treatable defects, therapists integrating tracking, saccade and convergence activities could help improve outcomes for their patients. Our background in developmental sequence, kinesiology and assessment of functional ability make therapists the perfect profession to address these deficits. As therapists, we address the motor part of visual motor problems, but basic tracking, eye-hand coordination tasks could help with outcomes by improving the visual aspects of this skill.
The Therapist/OD team
Therapists, both PT and OT, should get the training to feel comfortable integrating these simple tasks into the interventions they already perform. Next, reach out to optometrists in their area. This relationship will be beneficial for both the therapist and optometrist, but mostly, this will help the patient.
(1)Niechwiej-Szwedo, E., Alramis, F., & Christian, L. W. (2017, October 27). Association between fine motor skills and binocular visual function in children with reading difficulties. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29096178
(2)Palomo-Alvarez, C., & Puell, M. C. (2010, June). Binocular function in school children with reading difficulties. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19960202
(3)Thompson, B., McKinlay, C. J., Chakraborty, A., Anstice, N. S., Jacobs, R. J., Paudel, N., . . . CHYLD, T. E. (2017, September 29). Global motion perception is associated with motor function in 2-year-old children. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28864240